Italian Crostata is a type of tart made with a lightly sweetened pastry dough called
pasta frolla. There are numerous forms of this pastry, which can be filled with an endless variety of seasonal fruits and custards, but the jam-filled variety is perhaps the most ubiquitous. Typical jams used for this are prune, amarena (sour cherry), and apricot, but any good quality jam – or mixture of jams – can be used. For the pictures at right, blueberry and apricot jams were used. With a food processor this dough takes only minutes to make, but it’s not all that challenging to make by hand.
Crostata di Marmellata
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold, cubed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
lemon zest (about 2 tsp)
1 1/2 cups of good quality jam, preserves, or marmelade
As with all pastry doughs, the less you work the dough the better. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and butter until the butter is distributed throughout. This is the step where a food processor is invaluable. Otherwise, a pair of forks or a pastry tool are good choices. Once the butter has been worked in, add the eggs and zest. The dough should be soft, pliable, and not terribly sticky. If it’s crumbly, add a teaspoon of water at a time; if sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time, but try not to overwork the dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Assembling the crostata
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Lightly grease a 9″ pie plate. Divide the dough into two pieces and press one half into the bottom of the dish, raising a lip around the edge. Spread the jam in an even layer across the dough.
Use the remaining dough to cover the top, ideally in some kind of crosshatch. One method is to roll out the dough (to about 1/4″ thick) and cut long strips. Another method is to roll “snakes” of dough and flatten them by hand. You can even use cookie cutters to cut out shapes to place on top. Whatever method you use, make sure to “cap” the edge of the pastry (see the pictures to the right)
Bake the crostata for 25-30 minutes or until just barely golden. Overbaking will result in a very tough pastry!